15 Mar 2010

Bloom where you’re planted

This morning some of the muscles I tend to ignore are reminding me, in no uncertain terms, that they exist. I don’t know why I find this surprising. The morning after the first day in the garden is always like this. Admittedly, my hamstrings are not screaming as loudly this morning as they have in the past, though I can hardly take credit for that. If my shoulder were even a little better I’d have stayed out longer yesterday, and I’d be in worse shape today. As it is, I’ve just enough ache in the back of my legs to make sitting at the computer this morning a delightful prospect.

Into the garden early, it was a gentle tidy we managed yesterday; picking up sticks, clearing fallen leaves from the pond, and pulling the few weeds that have dared to show their heads thus far. I finally planted a hardy geranium that I picked up at a boot sale last autumn which had never quite made it into the ground. I cut back and moved the leggy Rose of Sharon, and planted in it’s place a Peace rose, that Tonia brought home last week. It was a good morning’s work, and the place looks tidier, though not quite awake yet. The only thing blooming at present is pulmonaria.

April 1st will mark my ten year anniversary in Wales, and nothing reminds me of the passage of time so much as being in my garden. The hebe purchased in a four inch pot is now the size of an upturned wheel barrow. The honeysuckle that was no more than a collection of sticks pushed into the ground ten years ago, now clambers across the porch railing. Each year it blooms more spectacularly; each year in the garden is better than the last. I regret nothing in my garden but the decision not to plant wisteria a decade ago.

Wisteria is plant that specializes in extended foreplay. It takes a good ten years to ramp up, but the pay off really happens closer to the twenty year mark. Ten years ago I couldn’t imagine being here to watch a spectacular wisteria display and I wasn’t, by god, planting wisteria so that someone else could enjoy it.

What a dummy I was.

A long time ago my Mom gave me a refrigerator magnet, with sunflowers on it and hand lettering that read, “Bloom where you’re planted.” That magnet graced a number of refrigerators over the years, becoming so familiar I eventually stopped reading it. I have no idea where it is now; it somehow missed the move to Wales. I thought of it this weekend while bemoaning the lack of wisteria in my garden. It’s good advice. Thanks, Mom. I’m going to buy some wisteria this year and plant it at the other end of the patio, opposite the honeysuckle.

Thanks so much for the positive comments on my painting. It’s hard to be a beginner, much less to share the stiff awkwardness of my first efforts. It’s nice to remember though that I was every bit as bad at knitting when I first began, and my first two sweaters were ill-fitting disasters. Parts of those first sweaters were excellent, however, and the same holds true for those hollyhock paintings. This little corner, I actually like.

While my own garden is not quite ready to paint, I’ve discovered a source of year-round floral inspiration. This week’s M3 video is from British artist, Ann Blockley, whose book, Watercolour Textures, has been enormously inspirational since I checked it out from the library. I admire her work a great deal, and have ordered her dvd. She seems a person I could quite happily hang out with for an entire day, so I feel certain I’ll enjoy watching her paint over the course of a 90 minute dvd.

Posted on March 15, in Blog


  1. Margo Boylan wrote:

    Hello from the Adirondacks. I enjoy your blog entries almost as much as your audio podcasts. At long last I am up-to-date with both and it has been a journey of pleasure. Love the phrase “Bloom where you are planted”…how true it is especially when you have moved a lot. Also enjoyed so much the quote…”If my _____ is better than yours then that means I have failed at it more often than you!” How true. Just fill in the blank with any endeavor. Still have about 10 inches of snow on the ground here but it is going fast. Spring and the black fly season will be with us soon along with warm temperatures and outside garden work. Thanks again. Fondly, Margo Boylan in Old Forge, NY

    Posted on 3.15.10 ·
  2. Lisa C. wrote:

    The ability to “Bloom where you’re planted” is a gift. Through our many moves, I have used that phrase to describe my youngest many times (Having a child with that ability is also a gift). Now that we are finally settled, I think I may plant some Wisteria 🙂

    Posted on 3.15.10 ·
  3. Liz wrote:

    Agree with you on the wisteria; mine flowered for the first time in 2009 in my Cambridgeshire garden, after 15 years in the ground! It’s a very long-term project; the plant was given as a wedding present, and its flowerless state lasted longer than the marriage… I lost the label quite early on and didn’t know what colour it would be if it ever *did* flower; turned out to be one of the purple ones. Yum.

    Posted on 3.15.10 ·
  4. Lexy wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    I have been listening for a long time now but never commented! I listen to your podcasts when making journeys on the tube in London, something that just makes me a little bit on edge! The podcasts are always so interesting and lovely that I am almost dissappointed when I reach my stop. So thank you for making it a bit easier! :O) Like you I was obsessed with the fourth plinth and was sad to be on holidays when you took your star turn last year!. I saw some brilliant people up there.

    I am more of a painter and drawer than a knitter, and am experiencing your frustrations of beginnerness but with yarn! Keep on going with the painting, it takes time and effort just like knitting I guess! What you’ve got so far is lovely, just enjoy it. Inspired by all the stuff I heard, I took a knitting class at Loop in Islington last year and learnt to knit the basics (just around the corner from where I’m getting married in the Summer, argh!)

    I picked it up really quickly but I’m not sure I’ll ever make a ‘knitter’ – I just keep getting frustrated and don’t know enough to be able to be creative with yarn like I want to be. I can’t undo mistakes without unravelling the whole thing…It feels different with drawing/painting for me somehow. I haven’t really started a project yet, just made quite a few mobile phone socks, so like you with the painting, I’ve got learning to do until I’m happy!

    Anyhow, what I meant to say was that your podcast is fab, and thank you x


    Posted on 3.16.10 ·
  5. Su1282 wrote:

    Just stopping by to say hello and let you know that I spent the last two weekends “recycling” yarn from the second sweater I ever knit. I wish I could say that I made all my mistakes in that sweater, because I sure made a lot of them! But there have been many failures since – this was just the most spectacular. It’s a lopi sweater and I’m reknitting the yarn into a more traditional lopi jacket. It looks like I’ll have enough left to make a second one. (the biggest mistake was using the wrong yarn for the project and knitting at too tight a gauge and then not stopping when I realized I needed about twice as much yarn yardage as the pattern called for). It’s been high comedy and a wonderfully reinforcing experience taking it apart and realizing how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve progressed as a knitter in the nearly 15 years since I made that sweater/car cozy. As my daughter’s violin teacher says, the most important word for improving new skills starts with P and ends with “ractice”.

    Meanwhile, hope you are doing well and that the podcast comes back soon,

    Posted on 3.16.10 ·
  6. Kristi wrote:

    Awe, Painting is wonderful. I took painting lessons about 4 years ago (long before I started knitting) and I love it…I actually painted quite a bit before lessons too. Keep it up, it’s a wonderful creative release just like knitting!

    and Speaking of knitting, while you were on your hiatus, I took a socks on two circular needles class (2 classes infact) and LOVED it!!! I will post pics on my Facebook page and possibly my blog soon…but I love em! Next stop – Cashmere socks for Kristi… hell yes! An ankle sock with a cable top, I can’t wait!!!

    Posted on 3.24.10 ·

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